The effort to roll out the red carpet for criminal offenders by eliminating secured release pre-trial has a new champion: Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-33) of California. Rep. Lieu filed H.R. 4611 on February 24, which contains language that prohibits the use of money as a condition of pretrial release. The “In Lieu of Accountability Act of 2016” also proposes that states that continue to hold criminal offenders accountable by requiring surety to guarantee their appearance will discontinue receiving government funding.
The irony of Rep. Lieu pursuing this agenda is that he’s from California. California has been slowly marching toward a lawless society with the passing of legislative measures that have proven to be colossal failures and responsible for a surge in crime and profound threat to public safety in that state.
They said too many people were in prison so they passed AB 109 and released tens of thousands of convicted felons from California state prisons. They said too many people were being charged with felony crimes so in order to white wash this reality supporters swayed Californians to vote yes to Prop. 47. Prop. 47 reduced a number of felony crimes to misdemeanors on a promise that the savings to the criminal justice system would flood the schools with much needed cash. This resulted in California schools receiving nothing and crime soaring because criminal offenders no longer feared law enforcement or arrest. Life has never been so good for criminal offenders in California.
The supporters of the In Lieu of Accountability Act of 2016 will come as no surprise. H.R. 4611 has endorsements from the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, EJUL, PJI and the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies to name a few. Classic government group think, find one person held in jail who cannot afford bail and then offer a proposal to eliminate an effective surety system that has been in place for more than 200 years.
Fortunately, these groups are in the minority. Most Americans are justifiably concerned with their personal safety and expect those who break the law by committing crimes against people and property to be held accountable.
The only true means to ensure accountability is to make sure the defendant appears for trial. While we would love to trust those who are irresponsible enough to commit crimes to be responsible enough to do the right thing and appear at every court appearance through trial, history has shown us this doesn’t work. A third party providing surety to guarantee a defendant appears for trial has been proven to be the most effective means of seeing justice is served.